Friday, July 30, 2010

ATCs: Architectural elements, form and function

Many architectural details are functional as well as decorative—the embodiment of art and craft. The "Architectural Elements" captured in the ATCs from the July ATC swap span the ages: from the back door to city skylines, and ornaments from the medieval to the Renaissance periods.

Did you know that the German and Dutch words for gargoyle mean "water spitter"? Or, that the ancient Roman architect, Vitruvius, was considered the world's first engineer? American architect, Louis Sullivan, coined the phrase, "form follows function." And his assistant (one of my favorites), Frank Lloyd Wright, carried out this philosophy with his own visionary style.

I hope you enjoy these ATCs and their references to the feats of artistic engineering that surround us in our daily lives.

Above right: "A back porch screen door. The dog wants to come in."

Left: "Architectural Elements in my kind of town, Chicago. Sears (Willis) Tower"
Right: "Architecture"

Left: "Stained Glass Window"
Right: "Architectural Elements—Downtown Memphis" 

Left: "Architectural Elements"
Right: "The Volute"

Left: "Architecture"
Right: "Architectural Elements—Downtown Memphis"

And, I always love the "interactive" cards:
"A back porch screen door. The dog wants to come in." 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Give your Heart away in August

This month my quilt guild will be making and giving their hearts—applique hearts, that is. The August block pattern for the Choo Choo Quilters Great Cuddle Quilt Quest is an Applique Heart with corner triangles.
Here are the directions:
Cut a 12.5" background square.
Cut four 4" smaller squares for corners. Draw on back or press a diagonal guideline on each small square.
For heart pattern:
Cut a 7" square from paper (or freezer paper). Fold paper in half. Draw half of a heart, making sure the drawn line touches the outside edges of the folded paper. Cut out heart. Unfold for pattern.

Use your favorite applique method to prepare fabric heart. Optically center the heart on the background square and applique it into place.
With right sides together, put four small squares on corners of background square (shown above on left). Sew on the diagonal guideline. Fold back on seam line to form corner triangles (right). Press. Trim excess fabric layers from back. Unfinished block size: 12.5"   (Finished size: 12")

My Applique Notes: I drew my heart pattern on freezer paper and ironed it to the back of the heart fabric. The heart was cut out using a scant 1/4" seam allowance. I clipped the curves and turned under edges using the freezer paper as the pressing template.

Set the sewing machine for a straight stitch (2.0 stitch length). Top stitch very close to the turned edge. The smaller stitch length makes it easier to go around the curves. Stop with the needle down to pivot at the points.

The guild will be collecting the heart blocks, grouping them into collections of 6 blocks, and assembling Cuddle Quilts similar to this. With a 2" sashing and 5" borders, the finished quilt top size is 36" x 50".

Fabric requirements:
1.5 yards backing
3/8 yard sashing

Cut sashing strips 2.5" wide
Cut border strips 5.5" wide
Cut two 2.5" squares for sashing intersections

Feel free to use this pattern and instructions to give some heart blocks away!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Round Robin: a paper pieced adventure

This is the final rotation of my quilting bee's Round Robin project. The characteristics requested by Jody for her quilt are: adventurous, vivid, and inquisitive. My block contribution is shown here with her original fabrics from the bag.
My sketches for an "adventure block" were representative of a compass. The ideal technique for preserving the points made by these acute angles is paper piecing. It's been a while since I designed a paper piece pattern, and it was quite the adventure to refresh my memory on the process (gotta think about reverse images for this technique).

At my computer, I launched my vector drawing program and began designing my 10" block by dividing the block into four quadrants. I had pulled several bright, vivid fabrics from my stash to use in the block, so I was not limited by the number of pieces in each mini-block quadrant. After three drafts of a design, I was satisfied with this version, and printed the four copies needed to compose the block (below left).
The adventure escalated while I was preparing the "fabric hunks" for the sewing process. Although paper piecing is ideal for fabric scraps and left-over bits because the fabric is stabilized by the paper foundation, I still pay attention to grain direction if at all possible—particularly on those pieces that are on the block's outside edges.

Pattern pieces were created for each segment and an arrow drawn to indicate the preferred grain direction (above right). I didn't realize until I began sewing the first quadrant, however, that the patterns needed to be created from a reverse image—or that I should have put the pattern on the wrong side of the fabric for cutting. [With a symmetrical block this is not an issue.] The solution was to retrace the lines on the other side of the printed pattern. With that done, the block assembly went as planned.
I think the quilt's character is well illustrated in my quilt block: vivid, inquisitive, and definitely adventurous. And it plays well the other blocks (above) in this collection. I hope she likes it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Knit vest with Inkle woven collar

This vest, the Four Seasons Vine Lace Vest [by Classic Elite], is a one-piece, knit-up-the-back-and-over-the-shoulder vest that was fun to make. The only finishing you have to deal with is the side seams, which makes it quick to finish.

The pretty lace motif is a four row pattern with purl on all the wrong side rows. My vest was knitted with Vickie Howell's ROCK (5 sts/in; 50g/100m), a soysilk-wool-hemp light worsted yarn. I picked up a 10-pack of this yarn at the Stitches South Expo at a good buy. (Nearly 5 skeins were used to complete this project.)

I decided to deviate from the pattern by dusting off my inkle loom to weave the shawl collar. The original pattern has a ribbed collar, but I chose to mix my fiber techniques.  The even, woven texture of the collar contrasts nicely with the organic openwork of the lace knitting. The woven collar also provides stability and structure to the garment. The band was woven using the same yarn and then sewn to the knitted fabric with an all-purpose sewing thread.

I like the combination of different techniques in a single piece—knitting with crochet, weaving with knitting, quilting with weaving, quilting with knitting, etc. Using different techniques to their best advantage can make a stunning and unique piece. Take the road less traveled every now and then. It's liberating and exciting to "color outside the lines."

What combos have you experimented with?

Inkle WeavingKnit & Crochet Combined: Best of Both Worlds
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